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Records of the Calabar Mission

Identifier: GD3

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of: an English Calabar dictionary by William Anderson (1849-1851); material used by William Marshall Christie while preparing his record of the mission including a manuscript notebook of locations of missionaries (1911-1945), a note of local church and mission records, notes of the work at the Slessor Memorial Home, Arochuku derived from the S.M.H Record Book (1915-1930), Zenana Quarterly Records (1887-1899) and the Women's Foreign Mission Annual Reports (1900-1908), and the manuscript copy of Annals of the Calabar Mission 1846-1945 by Christie, listing all the missionaries and other workers at Calabar; notes and correspondence about contacts (1914-1915) between Thomas Hart, a missionary accountant from Glasgow, and Mary Slessor, missionary at Calabar; letters including reminiscences to Hart from 'Dan' Slessor, an African adopted by Mary Slessor, and from Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam; 'miscellaneous' papers such as a tribute to Christie (1945), articles about Calabar, and a report of the Itu Leper Colony (1948); and correspondence about histories of the mission (1969).


  • Creation: 1849-1969

Language of Materials

English, and Efik.

Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

The volume at MS BOX52.5.6 has been screened for Data Protection issues and is open for use, KM Stewart, June 2022.

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the repository for details.

Biographical / Historical

The Calabar mission had its origins in Jamaica when the emancipation of slaves gave weight to proposals take the Christian message to Africa. In 1846 a party landed in Old Calabar, now in Nigeria, led by Hope M. Waddell a Scottish Missionary Society missionary. The group was backed by the United Secession Church but the mission was brought under the supervision of the United Presbyterians in 1847. Waddell remained at the mission until 1859. He was joined by William Anderson, who had begun his career in Jamaica in 1839 then moved to Calabar in 1849 where he was to remain a dominant figure until 1891, and by Hugh Goldie who became the mission's leading Efik scholar and translator. Progress was at first slow, the mission concentrated partly on education and partly on preaching by which they hoped to effect both religious and social change. They were particularly concerned to alter such practices as ritual killing, the killing of twins and poison ordeals. Church membership remained small, but in the 1880s some growth was evident and the mission began a period of expansion of which the appointment of Mary Slessor to Okoyong was part. The Hope Waddell Institute in Duke Town was established during this period. Political changes in the early part of the twentieth century increased the attraction of Christianity and young African teachers, many trained by Alexander Cruickshank, as well as medical missionaries began to play a more prominent role in the church. One of these, Francis Akanu Ibiam, was to become a major figure in independent Nigeria. William Marshall Christie, one of the Calabar missionaries during this period, was ordained in Edinburgh in 1913 and immediately left for Calabar where he first became vice-principal of the Hope Waddell Training Institution then concentrated on opening schools throughout the area. He retired in 1945 in which year the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria was formally constituted. Thomas Hart was a chartered accountant and well known figure in Glasgow. He was an accountant at Calabar from 1911-1912 and again from 1913-1915 when he left and joined the army audit department. The mission itself was finally abandoned in 1960.


1 file, 2 volumes.


The dictionary is stored under MSS CALA, the file and volume are stored together in MSS BOX 52.

Physical Location

MS CALA; MS BOX 52.5.1-6

Other Finding Aids

The Index to Manuscripts held at New College Library mentions the collection. A handlist is filed in the New College Inventory of Manuscripts under MS BOX 52 and MS CALA.

Custodial History

The material (apart from the Anderson dictionary) was gathered together by Donald McFarlan, himself a missionary. Some of it was given to McFarlan by Christie while the former was working on his history of the mission.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Anderson dictionary came from David Sutherland of Leith. The remaining material was presented to New College Library by Glasgow University Archives in 1990.

Related Materials

Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections has an album of illustrations of the Calabar Mission (Accession E.1965.52, shelfmark Gen.827F) and the papers of William Marwick (Coll-219). Correspondence and papers of William Anderson are in the National Library of Scotland (reference MSS 2981-83, 8943-51) along with Church of Scotland records and other missionary papers including correspondence with William Christie and Thomas Hart. Mary Slessor's papers are at Dundee.


Donald McFarlan used the Christie material for Calabar. The Church of Scotland Mission 1846-1946. London: Thomas Nelson, 1946.


  1. Modified at: Wed Apr 25 10:59:13 GMT+0100 (GDT) 2001
  2. 08 April 2013 Converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
Records of the Calabar Mission
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Repository Details

Part of the New College Library Special Collections Repository

New College
Mound Place
Edinburgh EH1 2LU. Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379